Monday 24th September 2018

September Stories. #2. 2018.92.

September Stories. #2. 2018.92.

When I began this series last week and ended with...to be continued, I know that was a disappointment to some readers and also could have been seen as a way to have you come back to read more. In some ways it was but in reality it is because, as I wrote, I realised the length of the September Story about being a principal needed more space.

I also did not realise until this week, that the day for publication of September Story #2 is R U OK Day. In the past, I have blogged about R U OK day using the R U OK guidelines and always hoping that if any reader needed help, they could find it by asking or calling below. In keeping with being honest, I will admit I could not tell my employer or fellow professionals I was NOT OK. I shared that with my husband and my G.P.

So, keeping that in mind, here is some background I wrote some time ago to get me started…again!

 

Maya Angelou once said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

My story, as a K-6 teacher, English as a Second Language teacher assistant principal, deputy principal, relieving principal, principal, begins…here.

As I trawl back in my memory bank to unlock the story of mine. It’s no-one else, yet it was about more than me.

The day I never returned to my school as its principal.

Etched into my mind, my psyche and my whole body.

Thursday 5.9.2002.

But that is not where the story starts.

In one way it starts here:

The evening of Wednesday 4.9.2002 was when I knew. I knew that my emotional health was broken to the point of never being able to return to:

  • the school I had led for almost 4 years
  • the position of principal I had been appointed to from January 1999

Why?

That is where I need to take a breath…and let out the sigh and say ‘it is not an easy story to tell….and an even harder one for me to relate…but I will.’

First Year as a Principal.

I was busy learning about the school and the fact that the person I replaced had actually died the previous term without anyone at the school having access to school keys, passwords and the like made it more difficult. The school was a medium sized (around 450 kids from K-6) one with added Unit for Students with Special Learning Needs and an Autism Satellite class. Within the stream of classes there were two “OC” groups: Year 5 of 30 students and Year 6. These students gained their place at the school via competitive examinations the year before.

The school culture was, as my boss told me, one I would need to lead into the 21st century and I knew that but I also knew to hasten slowly on some changes whilst making some practical ones quickly. The previous principal, sadly departed, had been there for quite some time, shared very little in terms of financial goals for the school but, as a local which I was not, whatever he had done was acceptable. One big ticket item that happened under his leadership was a sports area which catered for a number of court-based sports.

One of my first spends was blinds. In a school with a second storey and in a very hot/cold place in outer Sydney, some respite from the sun and to make activities such as work via a whiteboard or screen effective this was vital. Once done it gave the school, from the inside and out, a better appearance for the community.

The school was fully staffed with each role filled: 2 Assistant Principals (teaching) 2 Executive Teachers (teaching). There was a group of speciality teachers: for Gifted and Talented students, Special Needs – Intellectual, English as a Second Language, Computer and Technology, Special Learning in Mainstream. I had been familiar with leading each of those roles in my previous schools with three  ‘new’ to me

  • having the O.C. classes
  • overseeing the use of the school’s facilities with an outside the NSW Dept of Ed jurisdiction
  • supervising a Special Needs Unit of 3 staff within the school

I like to think, looking back from 2018, that I did all I could to both understand, accept and get upskilled quickly to enable me, the educational leader of the school, to best meet the needs of those students, also considering the skills of their teachers and to see that the parents of the students knew the children’s needs were paramount.

That of course, was also integral to my oversight and management of the remainder of the school in the mainstream classes.

There were computers for my work and communication via emails did not arrive for a few years. It was a telephone, fax and mail school and being on the outskirts of Sydney the communication and responses were not as frequent as the suburbs of Sydney.

The year went well with ME being the major learner of course. I was the ONLY new staff member but I also had to ensure that MY leadership goals were part of the new school’s as well. There was a lot of policy discussion which was mostly related to why there were none where I was used to having these done. Like I have said before, I was there to make change but I also needed to handle matters carefully.

This year I turned 50 and on the staff was another person my age and I recall a joint celebration with two cakes. We did socialise somewhat during the school term with a restaurant meal or something similar with ataff. We had regular morning teas and I promoted collegiality and support for all staff.

My executive staff were good but two of them sought promotion – one to a country school, the other to a city school and of course I was pleased for them professionally when their  work was rewarded with what they sought. I recall an incident which was a critical one as it demonstrated a lack of foresight, organisation and care from one of the senior staff. This related to a student being announced at the final year assembly as Vice-Captain, when in fact, she was to be a prefect, and another student was the Vice-Captain. In an embarrassing time for the student, her family and the senior staff I had to interrupt the announcement with the correct person’s name. From that time, I was aware of more loopholes within the school’s management. Policies for example. In a first for this executive staff, there needed to be a written policy on the how, what and why of student leadership nominations, voting and results. From my side, it looked quite poorly scrutinised and certainly that family of the student who was incorrectly announced as vice-captain continued to let me know of their upset long after that incident. No apology in the world was good enough.

Onward into 2000 & beyond.

There were some staff changes into this year of the Sydney Olympics and I had to call panels of parent representative, school representative and one other teacher to enable me to interview, by merit selection, 2 people to replace those who had been promoted. More on this in the third post next week.

The education communities in and near Sydney loved the fact that this was the year of the Sydney Olympics and we even had an extra week off school in September 2000 for all of the available transport (buses mostly) to be geared to getting people to and from Olympic venues. A person who had carried a torch in part of the area near the school brought it to us and we all got to hold it. We had special days and the vibe was good. We even made our Staff Photo that year based on Sports and the Olympics.

I had some lovely people working at the school in administration and I know my mantra (from my boss) of keeping on heading into this famous 21st century was embraced but it remained a load on me as the school leader both administratively and educationally. There were courses in finance and human resources to attend and of course ones to train us further in Child Protection.

This became even more important as time went on, and I recall sitting at yet another training course thinking “I am responsible for all of this yet I have no control over it”. It was quite a  watershed moment for me.

I loved the role even so. I felt I brought action and innovation to the school and lifted its place in educational areas. I may not have been a local in a very conservative area but I did my best to keep open and good relationships with the local community, my Parent groups and the community of schools nearby.

At home, I know I really never switched off. The laptop came home with me. Newsletters written by me on the weekend. There was no email or other communications like that until 2002 so everything was done and then printed off for the families each fortnight. I improved more of the external appearance with signage and keeping areas safer by removal of damaged play equipment. I had a General Assistant 3 days a week and because of the size of the school grounds, he spent most of his time on a mower.

I had to organise school repairs and more via private contractors and be savvy enough to know how to ask for quotes and then to see how the school might benefit and when to get those happening in a child-free time. I would be phoned at home in school holidays about staffing and maintenance and there was/is not a time-off for school principals.

Next Time: Story 3.

What happened in the lead up to my emotional health breakdown.

I have written only some of what it is like to be a school principal. Despite the fact, as above “one day, I never went back” I loved the role. However, now in this age of social media and 24/7 connections, I do not believe I could perform the role without cost to my mental health.

Therefore I honour R U OK Day and this message below is for those who might be part of a conversation and not sure what to do.

I wish I had known that I could have admitted to a colleague or my boss how hard things got for me in mid 2002 but I could not. Not until I broke down at home on 4.9.2002.

Denyse.

 

Joining with Leanne for Lovin Life Linky here on Thursdays.

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September Stories. #1. 2018.89.

September Stories. #1. 2018.89.

I’ve enjoyed writing Thursday posts on a theme. There has been the  Just For July series and the Appreciation in August one just finished. I did give a lot of consideration to what September might be, and with the chance to tell stories in a more detailed form, here is the first! September Stories. I hope YOU enjoy too. Denyse.

Sixteen Years Ago.

But first:

I really enjoyed being a K-6 School Principal. I had waited till my late 40s to decide to ‘take the plunge’ and actively seek a principal’s role in a K-6 school in Sydney’s west.

Having been a relieving Principal in a school where I had been a Deputy Principal I knew that I did not want to apply for that role as I had been at that school for almost 10 years.

This was a much longer period than I usually stayed in one school and family reasons were part of this but I knew that to lead that school was fraught with trying to placate factions and being in conflict ethically with the old-fashioned and out-moded forms of discipline.

In the lead up to the end of the 1990s I was asked to relieve as a Principal is a larger school within the Western Sydney environment I knew well. This school already had a leadership team including Deputy Principals but it was the wish of the out-going (Long Service Leave first!) Principal that someone from out of the school be appointed. That was me.

What a baptism of fire this was!

Whilst I knew the general area, I was not knowledgable at all about the make-up of the student population – which was well into the 600s. I was to lead that school for Terms 3 and 4 when a principal would be appointed. There were special needs classes, there were children of high needs (intellectual and behavioural) in mainstream classes. Fortunately, it came with a non-teaching Deputy, who helped bring me up to speed with every new challenge including:

  • chasing a boy who was ready to jump the low fence and run onto the road. He stopped. In the playground.
  • finding another boy climbing to the roof of a building to escape the problem he had being in class.
  • having a mother of a girl scream at me over the desk “what are YOU going to DO ABOUT this, YOU”RE the PRINCIPAL”

“I really do not want to be a Principal” I said after a very hectic Term 3 leading into Term 4…but then again..

” the old death bed regret” popped into my mind.

Did I want to think I should have given the principalship a go but I did not?”

Answer: NO.

Further Reasons!

As the last Term progressed, unless I did decide to start applying for Principal’s roles, I had this ultimatum delivered.

As a Deputy Principal who had needed to leave her original school (the 10 year one) because the school student population  was slowing and there was no longer a DP position, I had to accept any position as a DP and guess where I was appointed: to the school where I was currently Relieving Principal. 

Oh. No, I thought that was untenable and also once I knew who the new boss would be in the following year my hand was forced – in a way. So it was out with the application templates and late nights writing and honing these to match K-6 School Principals roles that I might fit.

It All Takes Time.

Back then, applications for Principal  were sent into the District Office for the Superintendent to look over with his/her panel of selectors. These were a parent from the school which was seeking a new principal, a staff member from that school, a principal of similar status as the role on offer and the Superintendent. If the application met with the panel’s approval, professional referees (nominated on the application) were called, and then if the panel thought they wanted to know more then the applicant was invited to a formal interview.

I went through this process over some weeks for a total of four times and got to interview but not the role. I was also still leading a school! I did get positive and helpful feedback particularly by one District Superintendent By the second last week of Term 4 I thought I was not going to get a Principal’s job but that was not true and within 2 days of school ending for Term 4, I was offered and I accepted the role of K-6 Principal in my own right.

Appointed As Principal.

The District Superintendent rang me to offer the position and of course I accepted it. Being so close to the end of the year, I could not visit the school until close to the end of the January holidays.

The words that rang in my ear, and were written to me by the District Superintendent echoed…and not nearly as much as in future years.

“Denyse, you have to bring this school into the next century and I know you are the one to do it. It won’t be easy and it will have challenges but you are the right fit for this”.

To Be Continued.

Next week, I will outline the story, in more detail about the meaning of Sixteen Years Ago.

Denyse.

Linking up with Leanne here for Lovin’ Life on Thursdays.

 

 

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So, What Do You Do? 2018.88.

So, What Do You Do? 2018.88.

I first posted this in 2016, and now today modified as I believe this is even more pertinent in years of retirement or semi-retirement which some of my readers would agree it can take a bit of thought to come up with the answer! I have also removed the original comments.

This is often a question when getting to know more about someone.

What is your answer?

Mine is…or used to be…”I’m a teacher.”

I find that there is a response of interest mostly and also I then sense that there may be another response that can be a negative one.

The ‘other’ response that teachers may get when they disclose their career can be, in my theory, based on the questionner’s experience with teachers.

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I am interested as recently I heard of a situation where someone was given a very hard time in an adult learning setting because that person knew he had a teaching background. The adult teacher/trainer displayed a bias that was not only felt by the person who told me, but the group’s learning was impeded apparently.

So, what is your response to knowing a person is a teacher?

 

Are you aware of any intended or unintended bias? Interesting isn’t it?

Now, away from the teaching background, how might I describe myself? I find I use a few more words that I might have even 2 years ago to help clarify….

I am fully retired from a career in education. I blog and that keeps me connected to a wide range of people. I also like to create and do art and take time each day to be outside and also to get dressed with purpose and go out for a coffee. Oh, and over a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer in my gums but that is going well after surgeries and treatments.

As for your career, profession or current employment or life status…what do you say when people ask:

“So, what do you do?”

Denyse.

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Joining the I Blog On Tuesdays crew over here at Kylie Purtell’s site and here on Wednesday with Sue and Leanne for Mid-Life Share the Love linky.

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Famous People I’ve Met. 33/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.74.

Famous People I’ve Met. 33/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.74.

This post was a bit of a trip down memory lane. I would say though, I do not have photos with many ‘famous’ people I have met. I have lived quite a long time (in my 69th year!) so I recall meeting:

  • singer Bobby Rydell when I was 12 at the airport. My Dad took me..I do not know why!
  • now ancient and still DJ on radio Bob Rogers as a teen but I barely recall where!
  • as a visitor to my school: Dr Karl Kruszelnicki and he was pretty disinterested but he came to speak to the kids of the OC classes and they lapped it up.
  • in the TV audience for a show headed by Tony Squires- as part of the Sydney Olympics and it was fun.
  • met author & public education champion Jane Caro on the morning I appeared on Weekend Sunrise
  • met the Morning Sunrise Team – of then Kochie, Mel and Mark when they did the show next to our house in 2014 but they did not impress me
  • was invited to and attended a small morning tea with then Senator Stephen Conroy and whilst he was communications minister for then Labor Govt, we talked of the NBN….and we know what happened next. Change of Govt…and somewhere along the line, Sen Conroy left politics.
  • had the entire (old) 2WS team broadcast their breakfast show from the school where I was principal and they were a delight!

The following people I did meet….at various functions in Sydney over a few years…

What can I add? Who Gets to Meet Santa Claus? Me!

Of the people in the photos above, I enjoyed meeting and felt privileged to meet:

Then NSW Governor Dr Marie Bashir. This gracious woman thanked me, then retired from NSW public schools for all I had done for public education in New South Wales. I was touched.

The author & actor William McInnes as he has been narrating his stories to me, yes just me, right..for many years and I never tire of his voice, his tales and his genuine regard for all things Australian. I sat about one chair space from where he spoke and he was ‘just great’.

The then Prime Minister Julia Gillard impressed me with her brief chat to me about education and thanked me for my contribution. My opinion of her changed over time when she connected funding to schools via a very complicated system that negated what was the best of Gonski.

T.V. and media home designer and author Shaynna Blaze was so generous and kind in her one to one meeting with me. Admittedly it was a function where I paid some money to be in a small group who heard her speak. She even followed through with her congratulations when she heard our house had sold after I sent her a photo of ‘the decor including the cushions.’

Author and Neuropsychologist Kylie Ladd became a twitter follower and friend in 2010 and at Kerri Sackville’s first book launch in 2012 I got to meet Kylie. She is an unassuming and modest author who had written successful fiction for some time. I went to my then local Library at Castle Hill to be an supportive audience member for her talk in 2014 about Mothers and Daughters.

Have you met some famous people too?

How do people become famous?

I do think things have changed a lot in terms of fame when we consider social media’s impact.

Love to hear your thoughts.

Denyse.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 34/52. My Hairstyle History. 20/8/18.

 


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Telling My Story. Chapter 3. 2018.68.

Telling My Story. Chapter 3. 2018.68.

A catch up for my readers:

In early May 2017 I began Telling My Story – after being hesitant then giving it a go, thanks to a friend who suggested writing my story “one blog post at a time“. I did just that and here it is.

Deciding to begin my story! Early May 2017.

Then, as many may recall, I was diagnosed with cancer that same week. I did not announce the news till later.

MORE time went by (of course) but I knew Telling My Story would continue. I just was not sure when.

Here is Chapter One …..and then Chapter Two.

This is also the new profile photo of course!

One year post major cancer surgeries.

Leaving Sydney and Home.

After the Christmas holidays and break everyone has in an Australian summer, it was time for me to leave home!

On January 27 1970 I commenced my permanent teaching role with the N.S.W. Department of Education at Barraba Central School in North Western N.S.W. The beach and city girl gave that away to ….teach…and be closer to her then 3 year boyfriend who was now working in Tamworth.

Before that occurred: Graduation from Balmain Teacher’s College and Getting the Telegram to send me to my first school. Yes, appointments to a new school by transfer, promotion or first appointment came via a telegram until early 1980s.

I had no trepidation about leaving home and present Denyse wonders why! I think it was the excitement of independence and the love of the job I was starting..and the boyfriend being only an hour away probably helped. Well, I do know one thing about me arriving in Barraba with my parents. I had nowhere to live (yet) and just guessed it would work out.

Mum had lots of home-type things for me such as linen, I had my clothes (teaching apparel was dresses/skirts – no slacks or jeans) and my beginner’s mind!! School was the first place we visited on that long weekend in January 1970 and we found the deputy principal there sorting people out as he did us with a huge welcome and I knew I was going to be fine!

My first home-away from home. Shared Bedroom at front!

But having been given a name of a ‘lady who takes in boarders’ along with my teaching appointment we duly went to this house…and I did not quite think that was my place but, we returned to the school where we were helped again “there’s a share teacher house just over the road and I think they need another person.’ Yes! Off we went and I was in my new home. Shared bedroom with another teacher who went home on weekends and I was all OK.

Mum, apparently, who cried all the way back to Sydney Dad tells me recently. “Empty nest syndrome” had probably not been invented then, but in 1992 I experienced it when our daughter left home.

Dad and Mum in 1990s

Beginning My Career as a Teacher. 

In the overall scheme of things I did really well in my first year of teaching but as most people know, you tend to learn more once you are IN the classroom than when you are trained. I give my training at Balmain Teachers College full credit in how we were taught how to TEACH the basic of literacy and numeracy. We “did” every subject that was in the curriculum and it was a superior model compared to how I saw others being trained in the years following.

My training speciality was Infants teaching. K-2. However as time went on in our N.S.W. education system, this qualification was made K-6 so I could have taught in a primary school setting  too. It is important to note this as specialities were needed and I know my love of and for learning of young kids stays with me today as a passion.

What I Found Out About Myself in My First Year of Independence.

I really am stretching the brain cells to go back to the young woman (almost said girl) of just 20 years of age. I was away from living at home for the first time in my life. I was not, as I recall, wonderful at keeping house because I had been pretty spoiled living with Mum and Dad.

So to be part of a teacher-share house meant a roster for cooking and cleaning. I was also responsible for my own washing. In this town the water was pretty putrid so I used to ‘wash’ …OK Mum used to ‘wash’ my linen etc when I took it back to Sydney every few weeks. How come, you ask? The Deputy Principal of the school (someone I admire greatly and his influence on me as a teacher was a good one) was engaged to a lovely Nursing sister who, it turned out lived a few suburbs away from my parents. Terry, the DP, would drive down on a Friday night after school (about a 4-6 hour trip back then down the New England Highway, and I would be picked up from a central point by my parents and spend time at home and getting the washing done and probably knowing Mum, some home-made treats to take back. Terry used me mostly as a companionable co-driver and that was fine.

I experienced my first (and only) relationship break up in the first school holidays that year. My long term boyfriend (3 years) had not loved his new career at Tamworth and was going through some pretty anxious times and he called off our relationship. Yes I cried but over time, I saw some good things about it. In fact, it gave me a better focus on the school teaching community and the fun we could have as young people as a group outside school hours.

We had drinks at the local golf club, we drove to the coast down the Great Dividing Range for a weekend at Port Macquarie, we staged dinner parties at each other’s houses and of course we supported each other at the K-12 school. It was a year of growth and friendships made. I coached the boys’ basketball team. I had no idea but apparently they went well. I was even encouraged to enter the Miss Australia quest representing Barraba along with another girl and had a day or two in Tamworth to take part in the judging and then the Presentation Ball that night.

For those who want to know..I am 3rd from left. Short! A tall person won!

In a teacher’s first year back then, an Inspector of Schools came to the class to watch me teach, talk to me and then as I was successful, I had a report written about me and what he saw and that led to permanency. An excerpt:

Miss Simpson approaches her work in a sincere manner and her  lively personality enables her to manage a combined group (K/1) in a capable manner. Control does not present any problem and her classroom activities proceed smoothly as a result of detailed programming and thoughtful preparation. Full use is made of the available display space in order to enhance the appearance of her classroom. A good working environment is evident in her classroom

In October 1970 the NSW Teachers Federation (of course I was a member) held its first ever Country Conference in Tamworth. Tamworth was the main centre for the airlines, and good department stores and clubs – RSL and more. For my two teacher friends, Sue and Rob, and I, it was an chance to…..socialise…and maybe meet blokes? We stayed at the Travelodge and whilst I can say I “did” attend some of the day meeting, I also used the time to shop for a delightful pink pantsuit. Pants suits were the rage. That night we were ready for socialising and when we rocked up for the dinner in frocks, there was one table with some spaces. It had 5 men occupying one end and we asked if there was space for us…”of course”.

I sat at one end and this young smiling man sat at the other and I will tell you readers, our eyes DID lock…and we smiled…and then…he asked me to dance. I was nervous and trod on his toes. He WAS about a foot taller than me.

Game Over. The singles one I mean!

Love All.

A preview..of what’s to come!

I do hope you are enjoying the stories. I am quite liking having to use the memory even if trying to find the photos is more troublesome.

Denyse.

 

 

On Tuesday this posts links with Kylie here

On Wednesday this post links with Sue and Leanne here

 

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How Did My Blog Start? 22/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.45.

How Did My Blog Start? 22/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.45.

In late 2010 I started a blog called Memories By Denyse.

The purpose, back then, was two-fold. It was to chart the story of the life of my husband as his memory became affected by what we were told was early dementia. It was also to showcase my photos because I take photos for memories.

Great start! Yes AND No.

  • getting a website and domain name was easy through my internet providor and they hosted (still do) the blog.
  • I found someone on line to set up the blog and then I had NO IDEA of what to do to change anything. And it really meant me paying others!
  • I’d like to say here is that first post but no. In fact almost all of my posts from 2010-2014 are now either in draft or gone to bloggy heaven.

So, what happened?

  • never one to do things simply, I decided after the first ever Aussie Blogging conference in March 2011 that I needed to write about more.
  • of course I did. So I added education. After all I was a retired principal. I also thought I could help both parents and teachers.
  • in fact in 2012 I was a guest blogger speaker at the Digital Parents Conference in Melbourne telling ‘my story’. Oh. It’s still on YouTube somewhere and I cringe because…
  • it was found that sometime that year that my husband’s so-called medical condition was the FAULT of every darned medication two specialists served up to him based on mis-diagnoses.

Hold on, I am going too fast! 

  • when I decided to go down the three blogs route because I could write about them, I complicated my on-life with: Memories By Denyse, Ready.Set.School. and Ready.Set.Teach. Yes. I even copyrighted my names and intellectual property.
  • Hold ON!
  • OK. I am stopping to explain that I started again (still had the domain name and could add as many blogs as I liked) WITH the most patient man ever. MY computer techie guy as I call him.
  • I met him in a local cafe and with the help of MY hand drawn examples, he came up with the way to make all three blogs work for me on-line. And after all this time, if I run into a blog issue I can call him. He’s the best and most generous person and does my work pro-bono! He did HAVE to give me lessons though. The main one was: Keep the number of plugins small & reduce the file size of your photos (yes, Craig, I have!)
  • They were all wordpress models using my own hosting.
  • But I over-did it. By spreading things too thin.
  • I used my skills and talents outside blogging with parent groups and pre-service teachers and a person blog for me. I used to tell stories about our family (not naming names) and with permission I used pics of the grandkids.
  • I was also teaching at Uni, caring for grandkids on some days of the week, and spreading the word on school readiness via my education consultancy business
  • I blogged up to 4-5 times a week and linked up. Back then there was a link up for each week day and on weekends it was Weekend Rewind.

What made me stop and think?

  • Blogging certainly brought me many new friends via commenting, blog link ups and social media. That was great. I continue to be grateful for that once I had fully retired from teaching at all levels and grandchild care.
  • Blogging for money was the goal at one stage for many bloggers and not wanting to be left out, I did some sponsored posts for a company who gave me a grant to attend a conference in Melbourne. (remember the My Family Stickers??)
  • I started to consider the ramifications of advice I was giving on the two education-based blogs and as I had to take out personal indemnity insurance for my education consultancy (costly, over $1000 annually) and blogging was taking OFF ….when I read about Blogging and The Law.
  • School Principal me considered a lot that was being disseminated and over the time of 2014 two of  my three blogs shut down at my request.
  • I did not keep many posts at all. It also helped me with costs at the hosting end to delete a lot of the blogging posts and photos and I do not regret that.
  • The posts relating to the family were all deleted and trashed (sounds terrible) at the hosting end even though there were no identifiers but I felt better as time past that there would be no digital footprints as any searches sent people to 404 error message.
  • It felt a bit sad when it came time to renew the hosting and the domain names but I let them go to focus on:

Denyse Whelan Blogs.

  • I needed something familiar and connecting me to others when we moved away from all I knew. Family, Sydney and Work.
  • I made a commitment from 1 January 2015 to blog EACH and EVERY day.
  • Yes, I did that until sometime in 2016 when I eased back but for sometime I blogged via topics which I continue to use as a guide today. I had a friend I met when I was making a logo to attend a conference who helped me greatly with these graphics in 2016. Thank you Tanya!
  • By 2017 and into 2018 this blog posts on Mondays and Tuesdays, and the topics vary. See above!
  • I linked up to the link ups that I knew were still around back then, but slowly they shrivelled up too.
  • Blogging was not something everyone continued. Many focussed on jobs once kids were at school. Some became dissillusioned with the blogging promise. 
  • By 2014 there was no more Digital Parents and some groups emerged on Facebook. Problogger conferences were/are the only ones that are around. I went to one in Melbourne in 2012.
  • In 2016 I got the opportunity to host my own link up and chose Mondays as Kirsty had retired her link up. Alicia has a link up too on Mondays as does Kell.
  • In 2017 Leanne made a Thursday link up as did Sue and Leanne each Wednesday
  • Kylie hosts I Blog on Tuesdays after Jess retired her blog.
  • There are far fewer bloggers linking up these days and my view is that people are busy with life, are not blogging much and to commit to a link up would mean commenting more and some just do not have the time.

Why Are Link Ups Important?

  • On a personal level I know that I get more people reading and commenting than if I just posted.
  • I deliberately do not have an email sign up because I did and I had few people sign up.
  • I know rely on my Bloglovin’ follow on my blog and me adding my posts to facebook.
  • But I love link ups because I get to meet new bloggers and that is the joy of blogging,

Connecting is Why I Blog.

  • When I returned to full-time blogging in 2015 my blog’s name is Denyse Whelan Blogs (then I added) To Connect.
  • Humans thrive on connection and on-line is one of my daily ways to do so.
  • Moving to a new area and three house moves in that time means that many of my connections are as they say in the computer.
  • I will continue to blog as long as I enjoy it and I have people reading and adding their comments. The conversations are the best!
  • Last year my cancer diagnosis was one very big example of the connections and care in the blogging community and I am always grateful for that.

Tell Me, How Did Your Blog Start?

I know not all of my readers are bloggers but I am really looking forward to reading everyone’s stories if they have decided to follow the optional prompt.

Denyse.

On Mondays I link up with Alicia here.

Life This Week 22/52.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 23/52. What I Will Never See Again. 4/6/18. 


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Art Kits, Materials & More. Part One. 2018.6.

Art Kits, Materials & More. Part One. 2018.6.

Introduction.

In 2013 I was looking for something to give me some level of contentment. It was a pretty stressful time in my life and it was a shout-out from Deb Dane who blogs here that changed my life for the better.

That IS a big call, I know!

A R T was it. But back then I was both curious and shy. I had ALWAYS enjoyed creating colourful and crafty classrooms for kids, and then as grandchildren came along I joined the scrapbooking phenomenon of the 1990s and beyond. I also did a college class on sketching when I first retired.

But A R T for ‘arts-sake’ was surely for more talented people than I am. 

Finding My Place as an Artist.

Oh seriously it took some time to apply this term to me but as one of my art gurus said ‘what are the rules for this?’. Rule-maker and keeper me realised I was the one limiting myself. Deb suggested I join the group on Facebook called DaisyYellow and take part in their Index-Card-A-Day challenge from June to July every year. In 2013 I joined, became a devotee, even signing on as a moderator in 2015 and 2016. In 2017 I did the challenge until it was time for my cancer surgery in early July.

This post explains more about it. I thank Tammy Garcia, the founder, for much of her encouragement of my art. Some examples here of my interpretation of the daily prompts in 2016. These are all created on (old speak) 6inch x 4 inch index cards.

What’s An Art Kit?

I credit learning more about art from being a member of this on-line group as above. It’s a free website and there are minimal costs for certain activities. However, as in all things in life, it was time for me to decide what I wanted in an art kit and what would be its purpose.

You know when you are caught waiting in a room for an appointment or sitting in the car waiting for someone and whilst you could look at your phone or read an old magazine there is this idea! An Art Kit.

I always had small one in my bag when we lived in Sydney and then somehow when we moved and I was mainly being at home, I got out of the habit of keeping one. It was when I had to go to hospital last July I thought I needed to take some art materials for when I was recovering AND cognisant. I was right! In 2017 I was obsessed with mandalas! I was designing and drawing them, making patterns to colour later. They were (and still are) a very MINDFUL activity for me. I made a large version of an art kit with my A4 book with pre-drawn circles and some lines on many pages, added in some Unipin pens, some colouring pens and I was set. I did not watch TV at night in hospital, I drew mandalas and they helped in my mood and physical recovery as I relaxed!

Now I am getting dress with purpose every day, one thing I do is go out for a solo coffee. I have been doing that for more than 2 months now and I am loving it. I get to people watch, sip a favourite coffee, sometimes try to eat something nice, and play with ART. Here I am last Friday at a local cafe. By the way, it took me about two goes not to feel self-conscious so now it’s second nature!

Next post I will add more details about:

  • materials I use that might be expensive initially but ‘pay for themselves’ in terms of lasting and quality
  • some ways in which art has helped my emotional health improve
  • how all of us can make art in a way that is meaningful to us and how to shut up the critic’s voice
  • ideas for colouring-in those lovely patterns and pictures in books and freebies on-line
  • and anything you might choose to ask me questions about in the comments!!

I hope this has been helpful.

I wrote this post as a response to Vanessa Smith’s comment recently and she blogs here. Another blogging friend, also named Vanessa and blogs here  is now colouring mindfully and this post may be of interest but the next one will be more so I think.

Happy Art-ing everyone!

Denyse.

 

Joining Kylie Purtell here for I Blog On Tuesdays and on Thursdays I join in the Lovin’ Life Linky with Leanne here.

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Denyse is A ‘Baby Boomer’ Who Blogs. 2017.120.

Denyse is A ‘Baby Boomer’ Who Blogs. 2017.120.

The point of this post is that I wish to be a blogger who connects all with age groups which includes those closer to mine. I am in my late 60s (a Baby Boomer for sure) and want my voice to be heard, and words to be read by a wide range of people. I am blessed to have many people come here to read and connect. I want to have more from the demographic of the over 60s and beyond. How I do that is something I am seeking advice about from you! I would be delighted if you could read this long post and add some wisdom for me to extend my words and pics into a bigger and broader community. I remain very happy where I am to date, but at almost 68 I would like more! Thank you, Denyse. xx

Why I started a blog.

In 2010, at 61, I started  this blog. It was after I had retired (again) from a part-time teaching role in a K-6 school as an English as  A Second Language Teacher. I was ready to be at home with my similarly-aged husband and to help care for some young grandchildren through the week.

I wanted to share my knowledge, skills and passions from education and living life in the senior years with an on-line readership.

It was important for me to connect as I no longer had a social group outside of home once I stopped work.

Twitter, back then, was a great place for conversations and ‘meeting’ people and as @denwise1 I loved it. I made REAL friends from this and as a commenter back then, on a great new site called mamamia, I got a clue that my writing of my life experiences may resonate to help others.

I can now be found on twitter here: @denysewhelan1

I’m also have an instagram account which is private as I was hacked: find me by this name and ask for the follow:  @denysewhelanblogs

The Facebook page for this blog is here.   I have conversations on Facebook as Denyse Whelan Blogs. Over 65 Sharing Stories About Life.

Denyse – post cancer surgery – Sept 2017.

Some history of blogging from me and about Australian blogging too.

In 2011 I went to the first Australian Blogging Conference, held in Sydney, and called Aussie Bloggers. Later in that year I went to 2 other blogging events. I met so many bloggers who remain on the top of my list of blogs now  and they have gone on to make businesses of their blogging: Mrs Woog from Woogsworld, Beth from Baby Mac, Nikki from Styling You, and writers/journalists such as Rick Morton, Donna Webeck, Bianca Wordley, Megan Blandford, Eden Riley and Lisa Mclean. Later at a book launch for Kerri Sackville, I met Lana Hirschowitz, Chantelle Ellem, Kylie Ladd and many more.

In my life as an educator I could never have met people such as these and so my world was widened as a result of blogging. In fact, in 2012 I was selected to Tell My Story at the Digital Parents Conference. The story has evolved somewhat since then, but the esssence of wanting to connect remains.

Why three blogs did not work for me. 

I was pumped in 2012 to mid- 2014 and wanted to be my usual enthusiastic and sharing self. I knew I had skills and knowledge AND experience for families with kids starting school and already at school. Families were letting me know at the meetings I held in pre schools that this was so helpful for them. I knew from my University teaching days interacting with pre-service K-6 teachers I had information and help for their future careers that they told me was great. I also knew I loved sharing both my life, and to an extent my family and back then grandchildren were not exempted by me or their parents. So the 3 blogs!

Ready Set School was one. Ready Set Teach was the second. Denyse Whelan was the third.

Was I busy? Heck yes. Did I have quality content? I thought so but as someone once told me, maybe much of what I wrote about would already be on MUCH bigger sites than mine such as kid spot. It was disappointing that the follow-through promised by the young teachers did not come through either. I had professionally designed and set up blogs, I had a newsletter each month, and I tweeted and facebooked for each blog. It turned out for MUCH more effort and little or no return. I attended Pro Blogger and other conferences. I commented on many people’s blogs and I joined in every.single.link.up. that was relevant.

When I began one blog, found new readers and got my own link-up.

With the interruptions of life for this now 67 year old called: selling a house, renting in a new area to your ‘home’, resigning and retiring from ALL paid work in education, becoming unwell with stress-based illness including IBS, leaving the family we love behind…I KNEW even back in late 2014 as all this was unfolding that I would need to connection and SOMETHING to do each day of my new life.

Back to the one blog along with each and every day and writing as if my life depended on it.

It actually did on some days in early 2015 when I was so sad and broken that the ONLY thing to choose to do was to blog.

I wrote a daily blog post from 1 January 2015 until sometime in November 2016 when it no longer seemed relevant to ‘post daily’. In fact it was freeing and the job of the blog connecting me to more people had been a success via Link Ups.

My link up, Life This Week on Mondays started in early September 2016 and has continued with only 2 weeks break (cancer surgery for me – see here to know more) and usually has about 16 bloggers link. It is a friendly space and I enjoy the interactions and blog reading. On Tuesdays I link an original post to I Blog on Tuesdays and repeat the post in another link up called Lovin Life & that is it for now

Why I want to reach more readers who are ‘baby boomers’.

I love connecting with my current audience of readers, many of whom are also bloggers. These people are in the thirties and forties and I can relate to their lives from my long ago experiences ( I guess) and from what I see happening in my own children’s and grandchildren’s lives. I also connect with those who are blogging about entering the middle years. Those from the over fifties and up. I like what I read there too but still, I have moved past this age as well. What to do? I am not one to sit and wait nor to give up an idea so what I am going to do is post on another day each week about life as someone in the ‘over 65s’ group.

 

Born in 1949 I am a Baby Boomer and this is but one collage from babyhood to this year. Before my mouth cancer surgery.

There is much to say. There may not be a large audience to read nor share but maybe I am calling that prematurely. I am hoping that bloggers who are already part of the link up each Thursday with Leanne here might have some advice after reading this introduction as a linked post.

I would be happy to hear what people (over the age or under it) are interested in reading more about. I do have a lot to add to society and conversations here from an Australian Baby Boomer Blogger (that’s me!) may be the ideal way to do this.

Self-set Challenge to have a photo every day until I turn 68. Making the effort to co-ordinate my clothes even though I go nowhere much at all these days

I hope that this post has made some sense and that you may have some advice for me too.

Thank you for reading!

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie for I Blog On Tuesdays here and with Leanne for Lovin’ Life linky here on Thursdays.

 

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